I sent the text to my friend max, reading, “Dude, are you at school?” The bus was already a good 20 minutes late.
It was late November, and it was cold.
So damn cold.
My eyes burned against the outside air, and each intake of breath was like swallowing razor blades. Everything was dim, tinted a dull blue, and all was eerily still, seemingly frozen in time. Mercury in the thermometers had settled to the bottom, refusing to budge.
I could see my breath as it shimmered against the thin air, warping and climbing upwards in despair before vanishing. Even the trees, long dead, with crooked, empty limbs, appeared to be shaking against the cold. Frost and ice glinted sharply in the faded sunlight, clinging on and threatening to overtake the trees. The occasional glimmer of sunlight was nothing short of an ironic and cruel sight as its warmth could not be felt. It seemed so distant, its hazy blue glow so utterly small and insignificant against the frozen vastness. The crunch of snow could be heard as I walked – a crisp, sharp sound cutting through what was otherwise dead silence before disappearing into the oblivion with nothing to return an echo.
I stopped for a minute.
It seemed as if I was the only one in this world; a world of cold, of stillness, of nothingness. Neither the heat of a friend, nor the joy of their company existed here.
I was taking a note of all this with my eyes closed, so as the keep them from freezing, when I began to hear the crunching of snow. It was Sarah. I always met her at the bus stop, or had been anyway, for the past two weeks. I was glad of it too. I used to hang out with my good friend Jenna, but she hadn’t been showing up for the past week or so and now it was just Sarah to keep me company.
I opened my eyes slowly, wincing at the frosty wind. I could see Sarah walking towards me, pace slow and steady. Her balance wasn’t affected in the slightest by the now increasing gusts of frigid air whipping snowflakes around like small needles. She wore a fuzzy wool purple hat that sat lazily atop of her head. It didn’t obscure her face at all however, and I could still see her eyes of the purest blue you could imagine. They were only highlighted by her flushed red cheeks, no doubt due to the cold. She was absolutely beautiful . . . sweet and funny too, but for some reason, I never really saw her with any friends. I suppose this was because she had just moved in. That and because all the guys I knew were too afraid to even talk to her.
I guess that’s why she was stuck with me all the time. In fact, she actually seemed incredibly lonely when I wasn’t with her.
I suddenly snapped out of my thoughts to realize that I was staring at her. She saw me looking and gave a slight giggle with an exaggerated wave. I quickly blushed and only managed to choke out an awkward “hey” before turning away.
I quickly whirled back around however as I realized that something was wrong. She was wearing nothing but a t-shirt, a pair of short shorts and her backpack. I practically tripped over myself as I ran to her.
“Sarah, what are you doing?!” I cried. She stood in front of me, shivering and taking short staggered breaths. Her attire was certainly strange, but there was something else wrong too. Something was different about her.
“Did you walk all the way here like this?!” I asked, dumbfounded.
She had said earlier that her house was a good 20 minute walk from the bus stop.
“John is worrying about me!” She cried, her face lighting up as her eyes widened and stared straight into mine. She paused for a minute before sheepishly continuing, “I thought . . . maybe I could use your coat.” Her voice trailed off as she looked down at the ground.
I couldn’t believe it! I had on several layers of jackets and I was still freezing! I couldn’t even imagine how cold she must have been!
“Oh my God! Sarah! Of course!” I cried, taking off layer after layer and wrapping her in them. “Did you not have enough time to grab a jacket!?” I asked incredulously, now down to just a t-shirt myself. “You must be freezing, and the bus is already really late, you had plenty of time!”
She shook her head. “I wanted to use yours!” She giggled, wrapping her arms around herself and the jackets she was now wearing, smiling with eyes closed. I was taken completely aback. This wasn’t like her at all.
“You-” I stammered, “you did this on purpose?”
“I’ve never felt so close to you.” She smiled, leaning her head on her shoulder. My mind was racing. I had NO idea what to say to that.
“Sarah, why are you acting so strange all of a sudden?” I asked. She didn’t respond at first, and didn’t seem to have heard my question.
“Awww! Won’t you be cold now!?” She suddenly cried, forcefully grabbing my hands in hers. My mouth moved but words were nowhere to be found.
“It’s . . . It’s ok, haha, I’ll just freeze to death.” I finally joked as I often do when I’m uncomfortable. Her face erupted in horror, her eyes going wider than I’d ever seen.
“No!” She screamed in anguish, beginning to unzip my jackets, meaning to give them back.
“No! Haha, I was joking!” I cried, grabbing her arms to stop her. The instant my hands closed around her, her face flushed bright red and she stopped in her tracks.
“John.” She stammered.
“You need them more than I do.” I laughed awkwardly, sickening concern encroaching on my heart.
Her face changed then . . . Distorting . . . Twisting, and giving the widest smile I had ever seen. I found myself backing up and letting go of her arms. Her smile was misplaced somehow, erroneous and deranged. It crawled across her face like a disease and just kept spreading. Her eyes didn’t blink and stared straight towards me but weren’t really focused on anything.
The areas in which they normally seemed to sparkle now seemed dull and flat. It was incredibly disturbing, so much so that I began to sweat despite the cold.
“So, are you ready for school?” I asked nervously, trying desperately to change the subject or do anything to get rid of that smile.
“School?” She questioned, straight faced, her eyes slowly coming back to focus, “We don’t have school today, silly. It’s a snow day because of the storm that’s coming.” She giggled.
“What?!” I cried, “Gosh dangit! I didn’t get an email or anything!”
She said nothing, but looked at the ground guiltily. Then I saw it. A smile began to slowly carve out her cheeks.
I was dumbfounded.
“Did . . . Did you . . .” I started.
“I wouldn’t have been able to see you if you knew there was no school.” She said, matter-of-factly, as that twisted grin continued to stretch her face further and further, eating away at her pale skin. The wind howled and crystalline needles bit at my exposed skin.
Suddenly, she laughed, grabbing onto my waist.
“You better stay close,” she giggled, “otherwise you’ll catch a cold!” My mind was in full retreat mode now as I began backing up.
I tried to wiggle free of her grasp saying, “Haha, yeah, I guess. I think I’ll go home now and maybe get some more coats, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then if the weather improves. Ok?”
Seemingly not hearing me, she snuggled in closer and closed her eyes. My hands were in the air, my body rigid and taut as my heart convulsed with unease. I drew several shaky breaths and looked down at her. Her smile now appeared . . . rather peaceful?
“Is this really all that bad?” I thought to myself. “A lot of guys I know would do anything to be in this position. She just wanted to see me was all . . . Yeah! It’s actually really sweet, albeit a little drastic.”
I relaxed a little, almost hugging her back, when I suddenly saw the dark crimson stains on her arms. My muscles tensed.
I choked, my voice faltering as I stammered, “Is that blood?”
Ignoring the question, she pressed herself even closer and looked up at me.
“Let’s go to your house!” She squealed, her face like a child’s on Christmas. “Don’t you need your coats? I’ll take them for you!” She grabbed my hand, looking at me to lead the way. Her big blue eyes glimmered with hope. I felt sick, torn between concern and fear.
But surely she was just having an off day, or messing with me in a cruel drawn out joke. It didn’t really matter though. We can’t stay out here forever, I thought to myself.
Taking a deep breath, I slowly nodded my head and began walking towards my house. She clung to me tightly as we walked and I tried desperately not to shiver and send her on another episode. We were nearly to my driveway when I got the text back from Max. I awkwardly wiggled my phone out of my pocket with my left hand as my right was still in Sarah’s vice grip.
I was still walking as I brought the phone up when I was suddenly jerked back, almost losing my balance on the slick ice.
I turned around to see that Sarah had stopped cold, her hands gripped so tight around my own that I could almost hear the bones breaking. I let out a gasp of pain and tried to pull my hand free, but she wouldn’t allow it. Her expression had gone dark, hair draping over her face.
“Who’s that?” She said, the usual cheer all but gone from her voice.
“It’s- . . . It’s Max! My friend?” I gasped still cringing in pain as I opened the message from him, “He was just telling me about-”
My blood froze. I stared at the screen as my chest tightened.
“Telling you what?” Her voice cut through the crisp air.
“Just about . . . How much he likes snow.” I lied.
Slowly, her cute face reappeared and her grip lightened as she smiled at me. We began walking again.
“You know, I like snow too.” She said coyly.
I didn’t even hear her; I was too busy staring at what was on the screen.
It read, “Yeah, of course I’m at school! Where the hell are you?”
I turned to look at Sarah, my hands beginning to shake, having nothing to do with the cold. I’m sure my face showed my horror and confusion but if she saw, she didn’t let on as she met my gaze with a cutesy smile. Her murky black hair was partially obscuring her left eye, making the right seem all the more piercing as its frozen blue hue searched my face. I could feel its chilling gaze stabbing at my numb skin.
“Who would you rather hang out with?” She said, still a hint of malice in her quiet voice.
“What? I stammered.
“Max. Is he a good friend of yours?” She said, looking away.
“Yeah, I guess?” I replied nervously, “I mean, I’ve known him for a while.”
Her hands slowly balled into tight fists, nearly crushing my own hand as she muttered something under her breath. Then she turned into my driveway and started walking down.
How did she know when to turn? How did she know this was my driveway?!
I yanked my hand from hers with all of my might and took a few steps back.
“Sarah,” I said trying to keep my voice strong, “Where is the bus?”
She looked devastated, staring at her empty hand, not saying a word. Her irises shook slightly, her face becoming hollow, whatever color she had disintegrating into a grey slag.
“Where the hell is the bus Sarah!?” I yelled. “Why didn’t it ever come?!”
She looked up at me. “No . . . school . . . today.” She muttered to herself, eyes once again distant and dim as she fumbled around and tried to reach for my hands blindly.
“Yes we do Sarah! We do have school!” I cried, further backing up, “The bus should’ve been at the stop, but it never came!”
“It wanted . . . just the two of us.” She mumbled, face blank and emotionless.
“And why do you have your backpack if you weren’t planning on going to school? How do you know where I live?!” I was becoming hysterical now.
She chose to ignore all if this and instead found my hands again, gripping them tightly and smiling crookedly. In the most unnatural way, she didn’t seem to be feeling emotions, and yet carved them into her own face all the same. It was as if she was trying to imitate expressions she had seen others express.
“I’m cold,” She said, “we should go inside.”
I took a few long breaths and tried to calm myself down. It must have just been a misunderstanding. Max was probably just messing with me! It wouldn’t be unlike him to joke around like that and get me all worked up about missing a school day that didn’t exist. He was the one lying, and I had lashed out at Sarah who was just trying to be nice! Right? I’m not even sure if I believed it myself, but it was better than thinking of the alternatives.
“I’m sorry,” I sighed, then, fumbling for words to make her feel better, I choked out, “Thanks . . . Thanks for being with me.”
My heart warmed as I saw her face shift ever so slightly. As if waking from a dream, her eyes glanced around, taking in her surroundings for the first time. Her sunken lifeless features slowly ebbed away as, for the first time today, a believable smile flickered into view. One that didn’t appear forced or fueled by delusions.
When her eyes cleared, focused on me, and realized that I was smiling back, she blushed profusely and turned away. I laughed at that and she started to giggle too.
Her eyes suddenly flicked down to her hands which were still gripping mine. She let out a little squeal and dropped them, burying her face in her palms, apologizing over and over. Her black hair meandered around aimlessly in the wind, doing little to hide her embarrassed face.
This was the Sarah I knew: the girl who had trouble talking to other people, the girl who always had a bewildered look about her as if the world was shifting under her feet, the girl who hadn’t been able to look me in the eye for several days when we first met. She never talked about herself; she didn’t seem to want to. She would always listen though. And when she did, her eyes always seemed less piercing, less haunted, and I was certain that she could sit silently for hours while I spoke. Before the events of today, I had still known something was off about her, about the way she listened so devotedly. I could always see a faint emotion shift her features, but it was now finally clear what I had been looking at: relief. When she listened, she appeared relieved, so incredibly comforted to be free of her own thoughts. It was absolutely heart wrenching, but it also served to make her previous demeanor of a few minutes ago all the more out of place. She hadn’t listened at all; she appeared to be trapped in her own mind.
As we began walking down the driveway to my house, I looked at her and took a heavy breath, calming my nerves. I only hoped that her strange behavior had subsided for good. We trudged through the slowly accumulating snow. I had been too lazy to shovel it with my parents having left for Hawaii a week ago. Ironically, as much as it pissed me off to imagine them on a beach while I was stuck here, I was actually glad that neither of them would be home for a few days so I wouldn’t have to explain Sarah to them. I would just be all too like them to try and make things weird if I brought a girl over.
We reached the door and I fumbled for my key, eventually unlocking the door and jumping inside before too much warm air escaped into the bitter cold. I immediately started up a fire, not really realizing how cold I had been until that moment. I looked over at Sarah taking off the jackets and folding them neatly before placing them down gingerly by the entrance. Her movements were strained, her spindly limbs tired and weak. She appeared to have a normal mental state now, but as she finished up and her eyes glanced at me, I couldn’t help but tense a little.
“Hey . . . Sarah?” I asked slowly, my heart going dark and beginning to pound, distrust and fear suddenly reclaiming me. I had to know.
I nervously continued, “Could you maybe go to my room and get me a hoodie?” My pulse was racing and my breath quickened. If she could . . .
“Anything for John!” She cried with a big smile, turning to go. She took several steps further into the house. Her pale form walked deliberately at first, but her pace gradually devolved into a strained staggering motion before she eventually came to a complete halt. Still facing away from me, her icy voice quietly seeped out, “But, I don’t know where your room is.”
I felt a huge wave of relief. Thank God! I felt bad for ever doubting her, for giving her such a dumb test.
I laughed, “Haha, sorry, that’s right, it’s up the st-“. I suddenly stopped myself. “You know what?” I chuckled, “I’ll just go get it. I need to stop being so lazy anyway.”
What was wrong with me? I apparently still felt like I couldn’t trust her! Stupid. Stupid! But I just couldn’t stop myself. I didn’t believe her. I wanted to know if there was really no school, I wanted to know why she had been acting so strange. The only thing holding me back was the fear of such a question bringing back that other smile. That deranged face.
So I just kept quiet, instead asking if she wanted some hot chocolate.
Her eyes lit up, “is that even a question?” She laughed. Her ghoulish posture slackened slightly as she turned to face me.
I smiled and moved into the kitchen starting a pot of water to boil. “Would you mind watching this for a second?” I asked.
“Don’t you worry,” She joked, “no one watches water better than me!”
I laughed and ran up the stairs to my room. I grabbed my doorknob only to recoil in shock. It was freezing! I could feel a draft of frozen air seeping out from under my door. I gingerly grabbed the handle with my fingertips and slowly opened it, letting lose a blast of frigid air. It felt like a window had been left open, but as I checked, they were all closed. Now that I thought about it, I remembered my room being freezing that morning as well and really quite drafty for the past week or so. I was only really noticing it now that today was so particularly cold. I would probably have to sleep downstairs by the fire until I could figure out the problem. I quickly grabbed my hoodie and closed the door to my room so I wouldn’t let all of the heat out of the house. I walked back down the stairs and into the kitchen, but Sarah was gone. The pot was boiling over, spilling water onto the floor. I quickly ran and shut off the heat, cursing under my breath as some of the scalding liquid splashed onto me. I grabbed some towels and began soaking up the mess. I finally got it all cleaned up when I thought I could hear shuffling on the kitchen floor.
“Oh no! John!” Sarah suddenly cried from directly behind me, making me jump out of my skin. I whirled around to face her. She was holding her backpack, seemingly empty now as she slung it back over her shoulder.
“What were you doing?” I asked, my eyes narrowing.
As soon as I said it, I immediately regretted doing so. I began to see her eyes frost over as she searched for an answer; her face becoming sunken, lifeless, her personality flipping.
“No! It’s alright!” I cried desperately, handing a mug to her, “uh . . . do you want marshmallows? Look! I have cute little bunny shaped ones!”
This snapped her out of it, and she squealed in delight as I showed her the bag. “Look at the little sugary mammals!” She giggled.
I laughed as I started to make the hot chocolate. I was so torn and confused, I really liked her like this . . . but where had that other side of her come from? It scared the shit out of me. I had to watch everything I said and did to keep her as the Sarah I knew. Or, thought I knew anyway.
It was about 12:00 now.
“The school would’ve called by now to report me absent if there had been a school day.” I thought to myself. I let myself relax a little more, looking over at Sarah as she sipped delicately on her hot chocolate. Her hat was still goofily perched on her head. I smiled and reached over the table to her, adjusting it so that it was at least sitting straight.
“There,” I said, sitting back down and grinning, “That’s better.”
She stared wide eyed back at me, her cheeks going red, trying in vain to keep from smiling.
Suddenly, from within her backpack, her phone rang. I couldn’t help but face palm as I heard the ringtone.
“Bruno Mars?!” I laughed as her face broke out in horror. “You’re just as bad as my mom!” I continued, “I can’t believe you two have the same ringtone! Hahaha!” She practically squealed in embarrassment and fished around in her backpack, quickly tearing out the battery.
She sheepishly put the battery in her pocket and looked down at her feet. “Do you want to . . .” She asked nervously, “maybe walk to the bus stop with me tomorrow?”
“Trying to change the subject eh?” I playfully jeered. Her face just grew even redder as her hands fumbled hastily with her shirt. I couldn’t help myself, it was impossible to say no to her like this. Any fears from before were buried deep in the back of my mind.
My giggles slowly died out and I gave a slight nod, saying, “Yeah, sure.”
“Great!” She cried, suddenly bolting out of her chair and running to the door. “I’ve uh- got to do something now!”
“I’ll be here tomorrow at 6:00!” She called back as she disappeared into the frozen wasteland, shutting the door behind her. I sat stunned for a good minute. Where the hell did that come from? She hadn’t even taken a coat with her! Imagining her in just a t-shirt in that brutal cold made me want to run after her, but I knew she was long gone by that point.
I lazed around for a few hours, did some chemistry homework, and even shot Max another text saying, “I’m serious man, we didn’t have school today right?” But he never got back to me. He rarely checked his phone anyway though, so I brushed it off, opting to sit and watch TV rather than simply wait for his lazy ass to reply. I was absent mindedly watching some sort of documentary when my phone finally buzzed. Picking it up, I realized that it had just run out of batteries. Max still hadn’t responded. Groaning, I stood up and picked up my house phone. I would just have to call him at home. I punched in his number and brought the phone to my ear.
I tried again.
Frustrated, I looked at the monitor.
“No service.” It read.
What? It was a landline! “How is that even possible?” I grumbled to myself. “Must have something to do with the storm.”
I sighed and tossed the phone, plopping back down onto the couch. I realized that I should have been checking the news to see if they had any insight into the possibility of school tomorrow.
I flipped to the channel, and my heart practically stopped.
I only heard the tail end,
“. . . Not releasing images or further details on the bus incident.”
Then the camera switched and they began talking about the highway conditions. I felt an absolutely horrible sickness gripping me. “It couldn’t be. Could it? Surely that little dialog I heard couldn’t have been talking about that. Not about the bus on my route.”
“That would be ridiculous! I’m not even sure what I heard!” I tried in vain to calm myself down, but I quickly realized that I HAD to know for sure. A strong wind suddenly gusted outside and the house shook, tremors being sent down every dark hallway. I stood up from my couch slowly, glancing at the snow beginning to plaster against the windows. Although grey and dull, the flakes seemed to glow against the oppressive darkness as nighttime fell. The frozen slag piled up as distortive structures slowly spread across the once perfectly clear glass.
I secured every layer I could find and suited up, grabbing my flashlight and taking several deep breaths. The frigid night air seemed to ripple with heat distortion as the door swung open, falling stagnant again as I stepped outside. I locked the door behind me and fumbled the keys into my pocket with shaking hands. I began walking the route the bus would’ve taken, my pace slow, the sickness growing worse with every crunch of snow under my feet.
“The school didn’t report you absent.” That’s because the phone is dead! “Max was just playing a joke.” Then why didn’t he ever text back?! Nothing I said to myself made me feel any better.
The dim light from my house was becoming more and more distant now, disappearing altogether as I turned a corner, now just me and the flurry of snow. The skeletal trees surrounding me groaned against the wind, their twisted black shapes silhouetted against the deep blue hue of the night. I hadn’t seen another house for some time now. The families in my neighborhood were exceedingly spread apart and the empty stretches of road seemed to snake on forever at points. More often than not, the snowplows didn’t even find the time to drive as deep into the community as I was going.
It was snowing quite heavily, but I was still certain I would be able to faintly see the tracks of the bus if it had driven anywhere. Despite this, I hadn’t seen its tracks for over a mile. Ordinary cars never usually drove up the way I was walking, and yet I noticed that the roadway was layered with the tracks of smaller vehicles. They looked fresh. That’s when I saw something up ahead, barely visible in the haze.
Lights. Flashing red and blue just ahead around the next bend. Whatever sanity I had left was quickly draining. I approached the lights and peaked around the corner. I didn’t want to believe it, but the sight that greeted me was something I had known I would find all along.
There, surrounded by ambulances and police cars, a mangled mess of metal and shattered glass, sat the bus I had been taking for nearly four years, jutting sideways out of a ditch. The windows were caked with blood which was still a dark crimson red, preserved perfectly in the cold. The once hot, steaming liquid had frozen solid to the splintered glass, encircling small bullet sized holes. The ambulances were stuffed with body bags as the surrounding street was scattered with a few severed limbs. I swore I could see steam softly rising from the dead white appendages as they were ever so slowly covered in drifting snow. I tried to listen to what the officers were saying, but, not daring to get to close, I could only make out a few words and jumbled phrases:
And one that made my stomach churn, “A few pieces missing.”
Realizing how downright suspicious I looked, I began sprinting back to my house, trying to keep my stomach down as my heart lurched rapidly. I reached my front door and frantically fumbled for the key with my numb fingers, looking behind me into the inky darkness. I finally got the key in the lock and turned it, but then I heard a sound, a knock on glass. It was coming from above me.
I looked up slowly, heart pounding. There, in the window above me, the window to my room, I couldn’t see much of anything. The light was off.
Which was a problem because I knew I had left it on.
But then I could make out some sort of shadowy smudge on the window. I was straining to see what it was when it suddenly moved, backing away into the darkness and it was only when this happened that I knew what I had been looking at.
Sarah’s pale, ghastly form had been pressed up against the glass, smiling down at me with a grin that splintered her face in half.
The realization made me stumble back, fear negating my ability to breathe for a second. How the hell did she get in?! I creaked the door open slowly, ready to run back to the police at any moment.
“S . . . S-Sarah?” I called into the house, hearing it echo down the dark empty hallways, “What . . . what are you doing in here?” My voice trailed off. What the hell was I doing?! I needed to run! Run now! My mind screamed at me. As a wind gust shrieked outside and blasted me with cold air, I watched the dim moonlight dance through the empty rooms of the house. If Sarah was still inside, she didn’t say anything and her silence continued as the wind howled and the house groaned.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Something was beginning to roll down the stairs from the top. Something heavy. From my position, I could only see the base of the stairs, so I could only listen as the sound grew closer and louder.
Then it happened. A pale, mangled form came tumbling down the last few steps and smashed onto the ground, its limbs horribly twisted and broken. Crimson globs speckled the soiled ground where it now lay. Its arms and legs seemed to radiate a ghastly white, splayed out like a spider on the shadowy ground. Heavy blood oozed from it silently in the darkness. It had no head.
Then I could make out footsteps. My body was frozen, my heart spasming erratically. I couldn’t take my eyes off the corpse.
I eventually heard Sarah’s voice quietly echoing down the staircase, “You didn’t give me time to prepare this one like the others.”
I tried to say something but nothing came out. Not even a squeak.
“After all, you said he was special to you.” She continued, coming into view; hacksaw in one hand, a ghoulish head in the other. Its expression was so distorted in terror that I didn’t immediately recognize it as Max’s. His mouth was stretched horribly agape, almost as if unhinged, a horrific scream forever imprinted on his face as his eyes stared straight ahead, wide and unblinking.
I couldn’t take the sight of it. I fell to the ground in utter shock. I tried to scream in anguish, but as before, I couldn’t make a sound and simply dry heaved into my hands.
Then I felt a hand on my shoulder.
“There there,” Sarah cooed, “Are you feeling sick? Catch a cold? Sarah will make John all better! And John will love Sarah for it.”
She gently lifted me to my feet, dropping Max’s head and the hacksaw and in turn grabbing my hands. I was in shock no doubt. My limbs felt numb and distant; I couldn’t think or move. I was just standing there, shaking violently. She gave me a big hug, wrapping herself around me and smiling crookedly. Her movements were all wrong, disturbingly inhuman, as if she was a puppet controlling her own strings. Her blue eyes should have been highlighted by the dark crimson blood splattered on her, and yet they appeared just as grey as her skin, sinking into her face, enclosed by darkness.
Her frigid hands slowly grabbed mine again, and she began leading me up the stairs, making sweet noises and whispering, “Sssshhh it’s ok. All you need is me.” I followed in a trance-like state, not really processing anything, stuck on the horrors I had just seen. Max’s disfigured head, his broken body, tumbling down the stairs like a rag doll. The bus, the bodies everywhere.
Next thing I knew, I was on my bed with Sarah sitting close next to me, holding my hands in her lap, her face a contorted grinning mess. “It’s cold in here you know.” She said, blushing as her eyes remained dull and lifeless. “Maybe if you just held me.”
I managed to choke out two words, “My . . . Friends.” My eyes began watering.
“Sshhhh,” She swooned, maneuvering to sit on top of me, “John’s friends are all here.”
I shook my head.
“Mrs. Bus driver lady is over there!” She assured me, pointing to a mangled bloody mess in the dark corner of my room. Through my bleary vision, I could make out a ghastly set of eyes staring lifelessly ahead from within the mound of flesh. The sight was horrendous and I turned my head away, gagging some more.
“You don’t need anyone but me,” she continued, “but I didn’t want John getting lonely either. So I kept your friends here.” She began stroking my hair. “Most of Jenna is in your closet.”
“I cut a hole in your roof so she could stay there for longer.” Sarah giggled, “Room temperature is no good for friends; it must be cold like outside. I’ve let her be with you all week, it’s my turn now.”
I began thrashing around, trying to scream but only letting out strangled squeaks. I couldn’t take any more of this! She giggled and interlaced her fingers with mine, pinning my arms down and bringing her face inches away, grinning from ear to ear. Her head was tilted to one side, her dull grey eyes swirling with darkness.
“Only me to love now.” She whispered, “John loves me now.”
I shook my head violently.
“No.” I croaked out.
“You’re so funny!” She laughed, “John loves me, and I love John! So much!” She leaned her forehead against mine. “Much more than his parents. His parents wanted to leave him, but I made them stay with John. Made them stay . . .”
Her hand moved and gestured to under my bed.
Then she kissed me.
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